The Anna Jarvis House is the birthplace of Anna Jarvis, the founder of Mother’s Day. The home is now a museum and is located just half an hour from my hometown. Today I’m visiting the house with my mom on Mother’s Day!
The house is small and very hidden by two large trees in the front. Blink and you might miss it!
The office and gift shop (where you can sign-up and pay for the house tour) is located across the street in a building with wooden siding.
The home was built in 1854 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.
The West Virginia historic marker out front tells a bit about Anna’s mother, Ann, who inspired Anna to create Mother’s Day.
Anna Jarvis was born here on May 1, 1864. She was one of eleven children. Only four lived to maturity.
Ann dedicated her life to helping improve infant mortality in this rural region. She would eventually move to Philadelphia to live with Anna, her caretaker.
On a separate trip, I noticed that Anna had a historic marker in the city of Philadelphia, just east of the city hall. Okay so technically she lived in Philadelphia, but she was a West Virginian first, thank you very much!
We meet on the porch for a little background on Anna, her mother, and the house.
The guide called this area a “whistling porch.” The “summer kitchen” is behind the door on the far wall in the photo below.
Servants, as they brought food from the summer kitchen back into the main house were expected to whistle so that the homeowners could be sure that they weren’t nibbling on the food.
The first room we enter is the kitchen. We’re told the family participated in the Underground Railroad, hiding escaped slaves under the floor here. I cannot confirm or dispute that one. Plausible.
Next, we move into the parlor which has a mix of family photos, artifacts and donated period items.
One of those items is this Steinway and Sons Victorian square grand piano from the late 1800s.
As I alluded to a few paragraphs ago, the guide/owner of the house told a few twists of the truth during the tour, starting with the valuation of this piano at “over a million dollars.” If fully restored, the value of this piano is likely around $35,000. Impressive, sure, but not a million dollars.
Making our way upstairs, this nice little stained glass piece is in the transom window above the front door.
The rooms are full of interesting pieces including this trumpet, which again was the victim of some historical conflation. This was explained as a priceless Stradivarius trumpet (which, even those in perfect condition are not priceless) but this is, in reality, a domestically made trumpet that has seen some very tough times. I give it a $200 valuation.
Onward, we visit the bedrooms and we see some of Anna’s hats and dresses and this fun pennant celebrating Mother’s Day.
In the “playroom” there are a bunch of toys and dolls, most of which were donated.
Some are period-specific and a few others that might not be so historically accurate. Don’t feed him after midnight!
The home is located near what was once a very busy civil war rail depot. Union General George McClellan used the home as his residence and office around the time of the battle of Philippi.
His office is located downstairs and contains some interesting period artifacts.
On this desk, we’re told those are Gen. McClellan’s reading glasses. True or not, I couldn’t tell ya.
One whopper of a tale we were told is that this is an original handwritten letter from Abraham Lincoln, saved from the trash bin by the homeowner. I can say without question that this is not a handwritten letter from Lincoln.
This letter is the world-famous Bixby letter that Lincoln (or most likely his secretary) wrote for a grieving mother who had five sons die in the Civil War.
This is a facsimile of that letter that is probably very old but also very common after the war. The original has never been located, but I’m pretty certain it isn’t here in Webster, WV.
I point these things out just because there’s no reason to inflate these items, just let them provide some color to the time period. I don’t really know why people do it, but honestly, everyone in the group was eating it up.
In spite of my criticisms of the history flubs, the Anna Jarvis house was a great little visit. The tour guide is super nice, well-informed on the topics, and shares incredibly tasty (and free!) treats in the gift shop.
I recommend a visit, especially if you can go with your mom on Mother’s Day!
The Anna Jarvis House is open for tours Tuesday through Saturday 10am – 2pm. Call ahead for information or group tours. Their phone number is 304-265-5549. Visit their facebook page for the most up-to-date news if you’re thinking of making a visit.
Thanks for the visit. Now I don’t have to go !!!!!